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Jack London (1876-1916) was easily the most successful and best-known writer

in America in the first decade of the 20th century. He is best known for his books, The

Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories, such as “To

Build a Fire” and “The White Silence.” He was a productive writer whose fiction traveled

through three lands and their cultures such as the Yukon, California, and the South

Pacific. His most famous writings included war, boxing stories, and the life of the

Molokai lepers. ?He was among the most influential people of his day, who understood

how to use the media to market his self-created image of a once poor boy to now famous

writer?(biography of Jack London). He left over fifty books of novels, stories, journalism,

and essays.


London was born in San Francisco to an unmarried mother, Flora Wellman. His

father may have been William Chaney, a journalist, and lawyer. Because Flora was ill,

for eight months Jack was raised by an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss. Late in 1876, Flora

married John London, a partially disabled Civil War veteran, who adopted Jack. The

family moved around the Bay area for a while before settling in Oakland, where Jack

completed grade school.

When he was young, London worked at different hard jobs. He searched for

oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol, sailed the Pacific on a sealing ship,

hoboed around the country, and returned to attend high school at age 19. During that

time, he became familiar with socialism. He ran unsuccessfully several times for Mayor

of Oakland.

London’s great love became agriculture, and he often said he wrote to support his

Beauty Ranch in Glen Ellen. He brought techniques observed in Japan, like terracing and

manure spreading and used them on his farm.

Troubled by physical problems, during his thirties, London developed kidney

disease. He died on November 22, 1916. Following his death, for a number of reasons a

myth developed in which he was made up to be an alcoholic womanizer who committed

suicide. But it was proved wrong. But its rumor has resulted in neglect of his books and

his popularity. His writings became translated in several dozen languages, and he

remains more widely read by other countries around the world, than in America


Because he read so much, he chose to become a writer as an escape from the

terrible life as a factory worker. He studied many famous writings and began to submit

stories, jokes, and poems but most came without success. His experiences when he was a

boy, later formed books for boys’ adventure stories like The Cruise of the Dazzler (1902)

and Tales of the Fish Patrol (1905). A committed socialist, he insisted against editorial

pressures to write political essays and insert social criticism in his fiction.

Spending the winter of 1897 in the Yukon, he began publishing in the Overland

Monthly in 1899. Many were books were written during this period of his life he told

stories in The Son of the Wolf (1900), Children of the Frost (1902), Smoke Bellew

(1912). Although The Call of the Wild (1903) brought him lots of fame , many of his

short stories also became famous, like The People of the Abyss (1903), and the same for

his discussion of alcoholism in John Barleycorn (1913). London’s concern for the

outcasts of society were notably written in The People of the Abyss (1903), a harrowing

portrayal of English slum life and The Road (1907). His struggle to become a writer is

recorded in his autobiographical novel, Martin Eden (1909). London’s long voyage

(1907-09) across the Pacific in a small boat also created more books about the cultures he

saw. He helped break the fear that people had about leprosy.

After their marriage he followed with a book he co-wrote with Anna Strunsky,

The Kempton-Wace Letters, which said that mates should be selected for good breeding,

not love. (Bess agreed.) London’s fiction and political writings express a strong

commitment to his belief individualism and socialism.

?Biography of Jack London?

The Jack London collection (DL SUNSITE)

?Jack London Search Results?


?London, Jack?

Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia.

CD-ROM. 1996 ed.

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